Why the high-octane Hyderabad campaign will change national political equations
PM Modi is visiting Hyderabad on an action-packed day when all political parties are grossly involved in electioneering for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
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Under the veil of reviewing the progress of clinical research for manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccine and preparedness for a massive inoculation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Hyderabad on an action-packed day, November 28, when all political parties are grossly involved in electioneering for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
This ‘surrogate’ propaganda takes the electioneering to a civic body to its crescendo and also explains how seriously the BJP is taking it with a view to making inroads into Telangana.
The BJP, which has been besmirching the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) hitherto surreptitiously, has unmasked its anti-TRS posturing in the recent by-election to Dubbaka Assembly seat where it defeated the TRS candidate with a slender margin of 1,028 votes.
With the who's who battling it out in GHMC elections, the city civic body polls are likely to change the national political equations. (Photo: Reuters, PTI)
The campaign schedules in the municipal divisions of the GHMC area by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP President JP Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and many other ministers in the Narendra Modi cabinet have not only exposed the shrillness of the BJP over the stranglehold of TRS Supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao over the State, but even obliquely indicated that Rao could be the possible alternative to it in the national arena.
KCR has indeed taken the battle to the enemy’s gate, while the BJP is leaving nothing to chance in its bid to turn back the battle at the proverbial gate. The first signs of challenge from KCR to the BJP were seen when the former began putting the bricks together to build a “wall of fame” by sewing a coalition of non-Congress, non-BJP Federal Front in 2017.
Riding on the crest of a wave of its popularity, the BJP might have acted as if it had ignored the noise and scoffed it off as just a whimper back then. It indeed was just a whimper at that time. But, KCR’s perseverance is unmatched in Indian polity, for he has seen the nadir and zenith - of the humble beginnings of his political career, to realising his biggest ambition of having a separate state carved out and becoming its Chief Minister. This is no mean achievement in the career of a modern-day politician.
The BJP knows it better than anyone else. It understands KCR’s opening of a war front is not going to stop at Hyderabad. With his devout demeanour, KCR also successfully portrayed himself as a champion of the secular cause. Even though the TRS has always contested against the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in every election, the former has enjoyed issue-based support from the latter.
Chief campaigner of TRS and Minister for Municipal Administration & IT, KT Rama Rao has sought popular endorsement for the concept of issue-based support by citing the support extended by the TRS to the GST Bill and a few other initiatives of the BJP government at the Centre.
The high-octane campaign of the GHMC that it has become, has magnified even the minutest of details in the election in Hyderabad to the national level, even though it is just an election to a civic body with a total electorate of close to 75 lakh spread over 150 divisions.
Asadudddin Owaisi, with the victory of five MLAs in Bihar, and spread of his party in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and a few other States, has indeed become an eyesore for the BJP. It’s for this reason that the BJP is trying to portray KCR as the one pursuing “politics of appeasement.”
If KCR, who has already articulated his ambition to lead a national alternative, can repeat the feat of the erstwhile GHMC elections by winning 99 out of 150 seats or more, he will, for sure, amplify his high-decibel campaign against the BJP and personally start working on getting the estranged NDA partners also into the Federal Front idea that he has been toying with.
While BJP wants to occupy the opposition space left barren by the Congress due to its political hara kiri in Telangana, KCR is aiming to reach for the proverbial stars at the Centre with the help of regional satraps.
The city civic body, which will elect a woman mayor, has suddenly become the cynosure of all eyes what with the Congress hitting the last nail in its own coffin. The BJP, on its part, unleashed its “nationalist rhetoric” even in the GHMC campaign. Union Minister Smriti Irani and State BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar talked about “surgical strikes on Hyderabad” to drive away Rohingyas and Pakistanis. This evoked a vitriolic reaction from KT Rama Rao who sought to know where and against whom these “surgical strikes” would be conducted.
The BJP, which surprised by winning four Lok Sabha seats out of 17 in Telangana in 2019, got a booster dose with another surprise victory in Dubbaka. The party thinks it is on a roll. However, the TRS is sparing no efforts to stop the BJP in its tracks and limit it to its original size in the state. The BJP is galvanising support from the urban educated class, while the TRS is projecting the massive development and welfare schemes it has been implementing in the city for the last six years.
The fate of new champions or challengers on the national political arena will be decided by the city voters on December 1.